top of page

My friend's dog died. What do I do?

When someone loses a beloved pet, it's important to recognize the unique nature of their grief. Losing a pet often falls into a category called "disenfranchised grief," which means that society doesn't always acknowledge or understand the depth of emotions involved in this type of loss. This lack of recognition can leave those grieving a pet feeling alone and unsupported. But we can bridge that gap and provide meaningful support to those mourning the loss of their furry family member.

This lack of recognition of pet loss adds an extra layer of difficulty to the grieving process for grieving pet owners. It can leave them feeling isolated and misunderstood during a time when they most need support and understanding. That's why it's crucial for us to acknowledge and validate the significance of pet loss.

Pets often hold a special place in our lives, providing unconditional love, companionship, and emotional support. The bond between a pet and their owner can be profound and comparable to that of human relationships. Recognizing the significance of this bond is essential to understanding the depth of grief experienced when a pet dies. By recognizing the depth of the human-animal bond and the impact that pets have on our lives, we can offer comfort, empathy, and a sense of validation to those experiencing the pain of losing their cherished companion.

For many of us, pets are considered cherished members of our family. They share daily routines, provide comfort, and become integral parts of their owners' lives. Acknowledging pet loss validates the emotional connection and attachment we have with our pets, treating their grief with the same empathy and support given to any other family member's loss.

By acknowledging pet loss as a form of disenfranchised grief, we can start to break down the barriers that prevent us from openly expressing our emotions and seeking support. Recognizing the depth of the human-animal bond and the significant role pets play in our lives allows us to validate the grief experienced when they pass away. It is important to convey that grieving the loss of a pet is not only acceptable but also a natural and understandable response to losing a cherished member of the family.

Pets can play various roles, such as emotional support animals, service animals, or working animals. They contribute to their our well-being, mental health, and overall quality of life. Recognizing the impact of losing a pet acknowledges the loss of these valuable roles and the void left behind.

Some may experience feelings of guilt or shame for grieving the loss of a pet, especially when others don't fully understand or validate their emotions. Acknowledging pet loss helps alleviate the stigma associated with it, allowing individuals to feel more comfortable expressing their grief and seeking support.

Validating pet loss fosters a supportive environment for loved ones to work through their grief. By acknowledging their pain and providing empathy, we can help them navigate the grieving process, find healing, and achieve a sense of closure.

Providing empathy and understanding is key to supporting someone through the grief of pet loss.

Supporting someone who is grieving the loss of a pet requires empathy, compassion, and an open-minded perspective. By actively listening and offering a non-judgmental space, we can encourage our loved ones to express their emotions, memories, and pain associated with their pet's passing. Validating their grief and normalizing their emotions can provide much-needed comfort and reassurance during this difficult time.

Additionally, we can play a vital role in helping alleviate their grief. By suggesting self-care activities, sharing resources such as support groups or literature on pet loss, and encouraging healthy grieving processes, we enable them to navigate their grief journey in a constructive way. Engaging in memorialization activities, such as creating tributes or participating in rituals that honor their pet's memory, can provide a sense of closure and contribute to the healing process.

Through your support and understanding, you can help bridge the gap between disenfranchised grief and the validation and acknowledgment that grieving pet owners need. By recognizing the significance of their loss, we offer a lifeline of empathy, compassion, and healing. You can create a space where pet loss is acknowledged, understood, and supported, providing comfort and solace to those mourning the loss of their beloved companions.

When someone is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, it's important to approach them with empathy and understanding. Here are some suggestions for what to say:

"Tell me about your pet. What were they like? What are some cherished memories you have of them?"

"If you feel comfortable, I'm here to listen and support you through this."

"Please remember that it's absolutely okay to mourn and give yourself the time you need to grieve. Your feelings are completely valid, and it's vital to honor and acknowledge all of the emotions that come up.”

Validating someone's grief is essential to provide comfort and support. Here are some ways to validate their grief:

Let them know that you recognize the depth of their sorrow and that it's okay to feel the way they do. Assure them that it's normal to experience a range of emotions, such as sadness, guilt, anger, or confusion when grieving the loss of a pet. Create a safe space for them to express their feelings without judgment. Let them know that it's healthy and beneficial to talk about their emotions or even write in a journal.

While grief cannot be completely eliminated, there are strategies to help individuals cope with their pet loss grief:

Remind them to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Encourage activities that promote relaxation, such as meditation, exercise, or spending time in nature.

Encouraging them to engage in activities that commemorate their pet's life, such as creating a photo album or writing a letter, can provide a sense of closure and comfort. We can remind them that everyone grieves differently and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Encourage them to give themselves permission to experience their emotions fully.

Assisting individuals in honoring their pet's memory can be a significant part of the healing process. Here are some ways to help them:

Help them create a physical or virtual memorial for their pet. This could include a photo collage, a memorial video, or a dedicated space in their home to display their pet's belongings. Suggest planting a tree, flowers, or a special plant in their pet's memory. It can serve as a living tribute and a peaceful place for reflection. Offer to help them find and donate to organizations or charities that align with their pet's interests or that support animal welfare. This can be a meaningful way to honor their pet's legacy. Invite them to share stories and memories of their pet. This can keep their pet's memory alive and provide an opportunity for others to offer support and understanding.

When supporting a loved one who is grieving their beloved pet, it's important to remember that each person's grief journey is unique. During this challenging time, it's crucial to approach their grief with a heartfelt understanding of their individual needs and preferences. Your loved one may experience a range of emotions and cope with their loss in their own way. By being present, patient, and attentive to their specific needs, you can provide the support and comfort they require. Your compassion and willingness to adapt to their grieving process will mean the world to them as they navigate this difficult time.

In times of pet loss grief, it's important to remember that support is available. If you or someone you care about would benefit from speaking to a grief counselor who understands pet loss, we invite you to visit our website. Our compassionate team is here to offer a listening ear, empathetic guidance, and a safe space to navigate the complexities of your grief journey.

At Creating Space Therapy, we understand the profound impact of losing a beloved pet and the unique bond that exists between humans and their animal companions. Our dedicated grief counselors are here to provide the understanding and support you need to heal and find solace in your cherished memories.

Remember, you don't have to face this journey alone. Reach out to us today to learn more about our services and to take the first step toward healing. Together, we can navigate the path of pet loss grief and help you find comfort, understanding, and hope for the future.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page